Thursday, December 29, 2011

Alan Greenspan's "Age of Turbulence"

I just finished reading Alan Greenspan's book "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World".  The first part of the book was more of a biography, which I found very interesting.  He played the saxophone in Big Bands before becoming a financial guru.  Then he had the amazing opportunity to either interact or work with Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr.  It was nice to have his rather non-political insights into these men.

Following the biographical section was his take on various countries, then various economic issues: from Oil to global warming.  At times he gets a little too technical.

My impression is that Alan Greenspan is incredibly intelligent with a vast understanding of many economic issues, yet he is still a man with limitations.  He was probably the most trustworthy person to have the responsibility that he held, yet I question whether too much power was given to a single individual. 

The greatest argument for my opinion is that while the book was written in late 2007, he is forecasting where the economy might be in the year 2030, but was blind to the pending financial collapse.  He did mention the risk of credit default swaps, but claimed that the New York Federal Reserve Bank was taking care of it and he didn't expect it to be a problem.

Sometimes a person can be so brilliant, that by comparison to other mere mortals their judgement is clouded into thinking they have supreme, flawless judgement.  There is no way to know whether the U.S. economy is better or worse off having had Mr. Greenspan at the helm.  Either way, after reading this book I find that I respect him and agree with many of his views.

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